Take-over of evangelical institution leads to obstruction accusations.By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, March 30, 2017 (Morning Star News) – Police accused staff members of a Christian school in Sudan of obstructing the work of a Muslim-owned business interest trying to take it over, sources said.
Police in Omdurman, across from Khartoum on the Nile River, on Monday (March 27) arrested 12 staff members of a Christian school and the next day prevented others from leaving the campus, they said.
In an apparent attempt to help the Muslim investor take over the Evangelical School of Sudan, police first arrested two leaders of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) – the Rev. Idris Karntina and an elder identified only as Younan – at about 10 a.m. An hour later two police vans arrived at the school complex, and officers arrested 10 other Christians, including women, all SPEC members, church leaders said.
They were taken to Omdurman’s central division police station and released at about 8 p.m., accused of obstructing the work of Education Vision, which is trying to take over the school. The institution is still functioning as a Christian school, but representatives of Education Vision are regularly disrupting classes, school personnel said.
The following morning, police along with National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers prevented Christian teachers, including the headmaster, to leave the school, which is owned by SPEC. Teachers at the school together with other SPEC members held a prayer meeting inside, until they were allowed to leave that evening.
The Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, SPEC moderator, was inside the school during the staff members’ confinement.
“We expect the arrests to continue,” Nalu said.
On March 16 about 20 policemen aboard a truck forcefully entered the school compound, arrested three Christian teachers including the headmaster, Daud Musa, and took them to Omdurman’s central division police station, sources said. Also arrested were Christian teachers Yahya Elias and elder Younan, all of the SPEC.
They were released on bail after eight hours, charged with obstructing the work of those attempting to take over the school.
The arrests came nearly a month after authorities arrested and held overnight four educators from the same school, including Musa, before releasing them on bail. They were accused of destroying a sign belonging to Education Vision. The Christians strongly denied the accusation.
The Evangelical School of Sudan is one of several SPEC schools throughout Sudan.
The leadership of the SPEC remains in the hands of government-appointed committee members even after a court ruled in November 2016 that the appointments were illegal, sources said. That case is separate from an Aug. 31, 2015 ruling by the Administrative Court of Appeal saying the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments interfered with SPEC’s Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church by imposing committees on the church in order to enable Muslim investors to take it over.
Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.
Sudan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.